Most automobile racing, whether it’s NASCAR or off-road racing have rules governing how the base frames are built for the race vehicles. More often than not, these race machines require the builder to use a production frame that is similar to the ones found in the cars and trucks you can buy and drive today. The competitors in the desert off-road racing world wanted something better and more extreme than they could get from the factory, which is how the Trophy Truck
was born. When Trophy Trucks first made their off-road debut in 1994 they were a much wilder thing than what you find today. Since the technology was so new, there were no proven formulas
or ideals that could be copied and built upon. Each truck was a one-off and nobody quite knew what to expect from them. Today however, Trophy Trucks use somewhat standardized frames and rely on other technologies to give each truck its edge. This means that with enough money you can pick up an out-of-the-box Trophy Truck and hit the Baja trail. So what is a Trophy Truck? They are most often 2-wheel drive chromoly tube-frame chassis trucks covered with a composite body. There aren’t any turbochargers in Trophy Trucks, as all the engines are naturally aspirated and are commonly V8 engines that run in excess of 700-800hp. The suspension of a Trophy Truck can travel up to 30 inches and each wheel can have 1 to 2 shock absorbers to help ease the harsh ride. Think a Trophy Truck might be for you? Well, these off-road beasts are only made for desert racing and are far from street legal. RELATED: 5 Safety Tips for Summer Off-Roading
Weight is a Good Thing
Unlike other racecars, Trophy Trucks are made to be a little heavier than normal, with some topping out at 7,000lbs. This would be unheard of in other racing worlds, as the easiest way to go faster is to get lighter, but in the world of Trophy Trucks, weight can be a good thing. The extra weight these trucks carry help them to blast through rough stretches and keep from deflecting and skipping when bad conditions come up. SEE ALSO: 7 Tips to Make Your Off-Roading More Responsible
A new Trophy Truck with all the bells and whistles is in the range of $300,000 to $500,000 and possibly upwards of $1 million or more, making these trucks a lot more than simple off-road racers. Suspension alone on a Trophy Truck can run upwards of $10,000 per corner. Add onto this initial cost the running costs that can get up to an additional $1 million per year to cover the team, maintenance and repairs, lodging, transportation
between races, and of course pay for the driver.
The Dangers of Driving a Trophy Truck
It’s not all fun and games when you’re piloting a Trophy Truck. These beasts are made to go as fast as possible over some of the most difficult terrain out there. One of the most popular races for Trophy Trucks is the Baja 1000
, which is the epitome of dangerous driving. The course is roughly 1,000 miles and takes place on roads that are open to the public WHILE the race is going on. Spectators can build ramps and dig ditches to affect the race, and best of all, if you break down you can be hundreds of rough miles away from anyone that can help you. Trophy Trucks also require a very specific skill set to drive correctly. The huge suspension travel gives these more body roll than that time you put the kid down the road into a tube and pushed it down a hill. This means cornering is far from tight and rollovers are more than possible, they’re likely. In long races like the Baja 1,000 much of the driving is done at night, and even the brightest lights have a hard time showing far enough up the road to compensate for the speed of the trucks. This means the already-dangerous course is close to lethal.
So why do people drive these machines? Well, for starters they’re fun as hell. The combination of speed, size, weight, and versatility makes these not only fun to drive but fun to watch. If you haven’t yet, check out some Trophy Truck racing online or on TV, and please remember, don’t try it at home.